Jaipur is India’s capital for jewelery, and the largest supplier of exquisitely crafted jewelery to much of the world, and Johri Bazaar (jewelers’ market) is a historic enclave that happens to be the center of the largest precious stone cutting area on our planet. You will experience a short walk through a section of the area (please note that all the jewelry manufacturers are located on higher floors and so you will not be seeing the jewelers at work) and soon arrive at a small boutique hotel, The Johri. This five-room inn has an excellent restaurant where you will enjoy lunch. Locally sourced fresh organic vegetarian cuisine is served here, and you will order ala carte from their menu of seasonal and regional offerings. We strongly recommend all their chaat and appetizer items, but their main entrees are not to be missed either.
After lunch you will proceed for a visit to the Jantar Mantar (a UNESCO World Heritage Site), a fascinating stone observatory built in 1728. Among other instruments, it includes a massive stone sun dial that is accurate to within 2 seconds. Located next to Jantar Mantar is the City Palace, the royal residence that was built in a delightful blend of Rajasthani and Mughal architectural styles. A part of this massive complex is still occupied by the Royal family and is not accessible to the public. Your guide will entertain you with stories of royalty as you admire their trappings. This immense complex also houses a number of museums that include displays of armor, miniature paintings, and a large and impressive collection of ancient royal garments and accoutrements.
(Overnight – Rambagh Palace – Historical Suite)
Nov 24th: Jaipur - Pushkar. (Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner) You are assisted with your check-out from your hotel after breakfast and then you are driven to Pushkar. Arrive at Pushkar around noon and there is a break for lunch after which you are assisted with check-in at your upscale desert lodge, located next to a tiny village very near Pushkar. This is the most upscale lodging in the region and all 3 meals are included here while you are at Pushkar.
Afternoon - Walk through the Fair camp grounds with your guide to experience the cattle trading and everything else that goes on at this massive fair. The trading activity is at its peak during this part of the fair and you will experience rural Rajasthan as one can only do during this massive cattle fair - photo and video opportunities are endless. Thousands of camels, horses, and other cattle will be traded within a few days. The cattle are groomed and decorated, their skills and strengths are demonstrated in various ways, and there is intense haggling. A plethora of street vendors are mixed in with all this activity, selling food to the villagers and fodder for the various cattle.
At the end of the day the trading ceases and the thousands of villagers settle down to discuss the day’s exploits, and to prepare for their evening meal. At this time, as the sun sets in the desert, you will return to your resort.
(Overnight – The Westin Pushkar Resort & Spa – Premier Villa)
Nov 25th: Pushkar - Narlai. (Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner) You have the option to enjoy a balloon ride over Pushkar early this morning - $267 per person, and limited availability during the fair means that this needs to be reserved at the time of your tour reservation. If you opt for this experience you will return to your resort for breakfast.
Those who don’t select the balloon ride can choose to either sleep in or to experience the early morning activities at the Fair - you can have an early breakfast and join your guide for a visit to the fairgrounds, where you will walk through the awakening campground and observe the villagers as they prepare for the day.
Start your day with a guided exploration of small town of Pushkar, where you will walk through its crowded and colorful alleys this morning. This is a pilgrimage destination and you will see temples that are a hubbub of activity during this auspicious period. There is usually a colorful religious procession that goes through the alleys this morning, but this events schedule can change and so it is not guaranteed. Visit the holy lake in the middle of town where pilgrims are taking a dip to wash away their sins.
You are assisted in climbing on your personal camel (camel carts are also available) and then you proceed on a camel safari through the semi-arid region near Pushkar. Your safari ends at a venue where you are the guests of honor at an Easy Tours sponsored Camel Race.
Experience the fascinating race where some camels will develop a mind of their own and head in every other direction but the finish line. You will be amazed by the speed and grace of these awkward looking animals as they fly over the sand. Return to your resort to freshen up. You are assisted with your check-out from your desert resort and then you have your last meal at Pushkar. After lunch you will proceed on the drive to historic Rawla Narlai, a 17th century Royal Hunting Lodge located right in the middle of a wonderful and authentic ancient village. Rawla means Royal Palace, Narlai is the name of the village.
Much of the so-called rural tourism offered in Rajasthan is of smaller villages that receive a constant stream of visitors and most of their guest experiences are, at least partially, staged.